John Calipari was the head coach of the University of Memphis, and rose to the occasion better than any coach in the basketball team's history.
In his first year, Memphis exceeded expectations. U of M won 20+ games for the first time in five seasons. The Tigers advanced to the Conference USA Tournament semifinals for the first time since 1996 and capped the year with a third-place finish at the TiVo NIT.
In nine seasons, John Calipari's collegiate record stands at 214-86. His record in March is even more impressive with a 43-15 record. By wins, Calipari has the fifth-best career start in NCAA history at the Division I level.
John Calipari built a basketball program from the ground up during eight years at the University of Massachusetts. UMass went to five NCAA Tournaments, advancing to the Final Four in his last season. They advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 on three occasions and two Elite Eights. The school became the second NCAA Division I program to win five straight regular season and conference championships.
He left UMass to become Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach of the New Jersey Nets. He led the Nets to a second-place finish in the NBA’s Atlantic Division and to the playoffs, ending a five-year postseason drought. He joined the Philadelphia 76ers coaching staff in 1999, rejoining Philadelphia coach Larry Brown, who Calipari was an assistant for at Kansas.
John Calipari was named the 1994, 1995 and 1996 Naismith National Coach of the Year. He was also the 1996 Sporting News Coach of the Year. He was the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year three times, Basketball Times East Region Coach of the Year and USBWA District I Coach of the Year.
Calipari is also known for his endeavors in the community and on the U of M campus. Calipari has donated or raised monies in excess of $100,000 with a large portion earmarked toward the Ned R. McWherter Library on campus. This spring he joined area business leaders to form the Y.E.S. (Youth Education through Sports) Foundation, designed to educate middle-school students about the importance of academics and athletics. The Y.E.S. summer basketball camp is free for an estimated 300 sixth, seventh and eighth grade boys.